A YOUNG activist against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is urging women to find the courage to leave abusive relationships.
Clodine Siyama (24) uses her time to encourage women to become independent to make this possible.
Siyama, who lives at Katima Mulilo, but grew up in Windhoek, is currently studying lifelong learning and community development at the University of Namibia.
She says she is passionate about helping women realise their worth.
She started an awareness campaign three years ago, saying her field of study prompted her interest in the issue of SGBV.
“Women prefer to stay [in abusive relationships] because they feel worthless and believe they don’t have a chance at a better life. They may blame themselves for their partner’s violence, believing they triggered it and deserve the treatment they get.
“Some women are not aware that they are being abused – especially when it comes to financial and emotional abuse,” she says.
Siyama says many of the abused women she has encountered have one thing in common – they are dependent on their abuser and reluctant to leave as a result.
“This made me realise we need to encourage women to take part in entrepreneurial activities to break the cycle of violence. These initiatives help them learn to be self-reliant and get their self-worth back as well,” she says.
Siyama has been volunteering at the Katima Mulilo multipurpose youth centre to help women take part in projects like poultry farming, horticulture, and welding, as well as to help them apply for loans to start their own businesses.
“There is a greenhouse at the youth centre, and I also encourage the women and youth to manage crops. This allows them to learn skills and knowledge they can implement back home,” she says.
Siyama says it is an enormous challenge to convince some women to leave the cycle of violence, because they are being brainwashed by the perpetrators.
She is currently helping three women who are actively working on their independence, she says.
“These women are currently in the process of applying for funding through the entrepreneurship programme of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, which should help them get the funds to start up their businesses. So far the support is helping them open up, and they are showing the willingness to succeed.
“I have not given up on the others who have not changed their minds. I believe one day they will follow in these women’s footsteps,” she says.
Siyama participates in workshops organised by stakeholders such as the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and and Social Welfare, the Zambezi Regional Council and the White Ribbon Campaign Namibia.
These entities actively take part in addressing and raising awareness on SGBV, and also influence policymaking on regional and national level.
Zambezi regional crime investigations coordinator Evans Simasiku yesterday said there is a worrying trend in the region of toddlers under the age of five being molested.
He said this is especially common in the Musanga area.
“We are receiving cases every day of children being molested, and we are wondering what is going through some of these men’s minds. We would like to plead with these culprits to control their sexual urges. The harm you are causing these children is irreversible, and this is our future generation you are harming,” he said.
Simasiku said 28 SGBV cases have been reported since the beginning of the year, and the culprits are often intoxicated when they commit the crimes.